DC Update: Back After a Break, Congress Avoids a Shutdown

A report on government actions that could affect the remote-production industry

Congress came back to Washington on April 24 after a two-week break, and policymakers were busy catching up.

Congress and the administration spent last week working on a proposal to keep the government from shutting down Friday. Early in the week, it appeared that a compromise might not be reached because of the administration’s insistence on including funding for the border wall while defunding the Affordable Care Act cost-sharing subsidies.

DOT Secretary Elaine Chao

Last Tuesday, DOT Secretary Elaine Chao indicated that she expects an infrastructure proposal sometime this summer. Previously, she had indicated that the proposal would come out in May. There had been some speculation that there would be an infrastructure component to President Trump’s tax plan, but the outline he released contained no mention of any infrastructure plans.

Rep. Bill Shuster

Also last Tuesday, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Deputy Counsel Holly Woodruff Lyons said that it is likely the FAA-reauthorization bill will include consumer-protection proposals. The committee has indicated that it will hold a consumer-protection hearing in response to the United Airlines incident in which a passenger was forcibly removed from a boarded plane. A publicly released date has not been set for the hearing, but committee staffers have indicated that it will be held tomorrow. Lyons also indicated that Committee Chair Bill Shuster (R-PA) wants the FAA reauthorization passed in the House by August.

On Wednesday, President Trump backed down from his position, and it appeared that Congress would approve a week-long extension at current funding levels. On Thursday, some Democrats threatened to oppose a continuing resolution if a vote on a repeal of the Affordable Care Act were held.

Late last night, however, a bipartisan deal was reached to fund the government through September. Needing to be voted on by Congress, the deal increases spending for the military and border security but does not fund the border wall.

If a government shutdown had occurred, the DOT was going to rely on an Obama administration contingency plan that would have furloughed approximately 20,000 employees. Air-traffic control would have been unaffected by a shutdown, as would the activities of the Federal Highway Administration and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

The DOT’s funding expired this weekend. The FAA reauthorization expires in about 15 days, and Highway and Transit policy will expire in approximately 1,250 days.

For the latest transportation policy updates, watch for the next DC Update, on Friday.

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